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Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Beryline Prophecy

All Methodists know about Woods Ware Beryl china. It's green, it's functional, it's tough, and it's in every Methodist Church hall - and others, non-conformist and even Anglican - throughout the country. But very few know the secrets of the Beryline prophecy.

The Beryline prophecy was first revealed to Enoch Wood, as it rolled off that Burslem production line in the 1940s. With the whole world recovering from war, the Woods had continued with the production of their fine china. But something went wrong with that batch. As thousands of cups, saucers, jugs and even gravy boats poured out of the pottery, Enoch saw the end of the world written into that strange green china. It was revealed to Enoch that, should all the Beryl in the world ever be together in one place, the Beryline Consciousness would rise up, and subject all to eternal slavery.

Horrified by the thought of being dictated to by a load of tea pots, Enoch made a rapid decision. He shipped the whole lot out to the four corners of Britain. In those days of austerity, the chapels were particularly happy to receive Enoch's kind offer - the Anglicans generally expected a slightly more refined cup for their Lapsang - and as a result Beryl became eternally associated with Methodism - honest, unpretentious folk drinking out of honest, unpretentious, indestructible green earthenware.

But as time goes by, Methodism is going the way of Sandemanianism and Wodenism. As each chapel closes, the hymn books, small communion glasses and - crucially - Beryl china is passed onto another chapel in the circuit. You wouldn't want to throw away Beryl china, would you? One day - unlikely as it sounds - somebody might break some, so best to have some spare. So the china is consolidated as - unheard by human ear - teacup calls to teacup on the Beryline plane, pulling them together into one giant tea set.

I occasionally think that the Beryl is itself the cause of the decline in the Wesleyan denominations - encouraging certain of its ministers into the kind of liberal Universalism that leads their flock to realise they might just as well stay in bed of a Sunday, if they're going to heaven anyway. At the ultrasonic level, scientists have detected that Beryl tea cups send out the message "Your coffee is your only eternal punishment." Some ministers still heroically stand up for the faith once delivered to Charles and John W - but in their chapels, the Beryl waits patiently. For someone of less Arminian faith is likely to take over after the regulation five years.

And so, as the Methodist chapels close, the Day of Beryl when the Earth Dissolves in Instant Coffee gets closer. For be sure, when the last Methodist chapel receives that massive last consolidating delivery of Beryl china from the penultimate Methodist chapel, the Beryl will arise. What had previously been our slave - the holder of our tea, the saucer that guards 'gainst spills - will be our master. Then we will bow down in terror - and a certain disbelief - to our dull green conquerors.

Friends, why risk it? Go to Chapel next weekend. You need to save the world.


  1. Loved this post as my parents had a Beryl dinner service and of course the cups and saucers. Seems so appropriate as my father was brought up a Methodist, even went to a Wesleyan primary school.

  2. So the 'kind' former member of one of my churches who rounds up stray Berylware and donates it to the chapel when she revisits the area is working for the conspiracy, and does that mean we could be the chosen site for the Day of Beryl as our stock only ever increases?

  3. Some of us have long taken a stand against this, and never moved from the china cups and so forth with the chapel name on them and swirly bits around them. None of this newfangled "Beryl china" for us.

  4. Thank goodness our Anglican church hall still has cupboards full of the stuff. We'd better hold on to it to save the world.

  5. I have been seeing a lot of Armenian clergy in Ealing of late. Unfortunately I have no scanner for my drawings of them, scanners being unknown in W5, but one of them was playing the Eflat Sousaphone in a band.

  6. Methodism has memories few other institutions have. As a child I thought I would be greeted in heaven with tea in a green cup. I remember in the years after WW2 as a 8-11 year old cycling to rural chapels on Good Friday, sitting through a long sermon on narrow seats, and then having Hot Cross Buns and tea out of green cups. My aunt and uncle had a whole dinner and tea set!

  7. Could the Antidote be Ginger Nuts?

  8. Your erudite essay has raised a good conversation on the UK Methodist facebook site. Our church has no Beryl, but I've still got some of my Mum's set which I still use

  9. Sounds like a perfect storyline for Dr. Who...


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